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Ofer Lahav

Prof. Ofer Lahav

Perren Chair of Astronomy, Astrophysics Group, University College London

Other current roles:

Co-Director, Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Data Intensive Science

Chair of the UK consortium of the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and Chair of the DES Advisory Board

Principal Investigator, Advanced European Research Council Grant TESTDE Project

Member of the STFC Science Board

Postal address: Department of Physics and Astronomy
University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
Telephone:+44 (0)20 3549 5813
+44 (0)20 3549 5808: Dr. Jo Fabbri, Project Manager
e-mail:o.lahav AT
Office location: 132 Hampstead Road (3rd Floor), London NW1 2PS

Publications (via UCL IRIS)

Short Biography

Ofer Lahav is Perren Chair of Astronomy at University College London (UCL). His research area is observational Cosmology, in particular probing and characterising Dark Matter and Dark Energy. His work involves advanced statistical methods, e.g. Machine Learning for Big Data.

He studied at Tel-Aviv University (BSc, 1980), at Ben-Gurion University (MSc, 1985; supervised by Jacob Bekenstein) and earned his PhD from the University of Cambridge (1988; supervised by George Efstathiou and Donald Lynden-Bell), where he was later a Member of Staff at the Institute of Astronomy (1990-2003) and a Fellow of St Catharine's College.

At UCL he served as Head of Astrophysics (2004-2011), establishing Cosmology as a research area, and as Vice-Dean (for Research) of the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (2011-2015). He is co-Director of the STFC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Intensive Science at UCL, established in 2017. He is the Principal Investigator of a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant on "Testing the Dark Energy Paradigm". Over the years he has supervised over 20 PhD students at Cambridge and UCL.

Lahav is one of the founders of the Dark Energy Survey (DES), and he co-chaired the international DES Science Committee from inception until 2016. He also participates in the next-generation surveys (DESI, Euclid, LSST). He served as Vice-President of the Royal Astronomical Society (2010-2012), and currently he is a member of the STFC Science Board.

Research Topics

  • Cosmological probes of Dark Matter and Dark Energy
  • Large spectroscopic and photometric redshift surveys
  • Neutrino Cosmology
  • Formation and evolution of galaxies
  • Statistical methods for Big Data

See more about UCL's Cosmology Group , DES:UCL and ERC TESTDE

Current PhD Students

  • Lucy Clerkin
  • Davide Gualdi
  • Niall Jeffrey
  • Michael McLeod
  • Krishna Naidoo
  • Antonella Palmese

Collaborative international projects

The Dark Energy Survey

Survey of 300,000,000 galaxies to study the nature of Dark Energy


Hubble Space Telescope imaging survey of galaxy clusters


The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument


The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope


Space mission - ESA's Cosmic Vision

Selected Reviews & Semi-popular Articles

"The Dark Energy Survey: more than Dark Energy - an overview" DES collaboration, MNRAS, 460, 1270, 2016

"The Cosmological Parameters 2016" Lahav, O. & Liddle, A.R., 2016 - Invited review, in "The Review of Particle Physics" (Particle Data Group)

"Dark Energy: back to Newton?" Calder, L. & Lahav,O., RAS A&G, Feb 2008 issue (revised version)

"Dark Energy: how the paradigm shifted" Calder, L. & Lahav, O., Physics World, Jan 2010 issue

"Dark Energy, paradigm shifts and the role of evidence " Lahav, O. & Massimi, M., RAS A&G June 2014 issue

"Let there be darkness, let there be light" Lahav, O., Odyssey magazine (in Hebrew), Jan 2010 issue, pg. 38

Selected Recent Presentations

"Wide-field optical surveys: from Dark Energy to Gravitational-Wave counterparts", Invited talk given at the Kavli Symposium, Oslo (2016)

"Neutrino mass from cosmological surveys", Invited talk given at Neutrino 2016, London (2016)

"Jacob Bekenstein's Universe: from Black Holes to modified theory of Gravity", Invited talk in Bekenstein's memorial meeting, the Israeli Academy, Jerusalem (2016)

"From the Big Bang to Big Data", Introductory talk given at a SEPnet workshop (2016)

RAS Gerald Whitrow Lecture 2014, "The enigma of Dark Matter and Dark Energy: Have we been here before?", delivered at NAM in Porsmouth (2014)

Software Packages

ANNz2: Photometric redshifts using Machine Learning (Sadeh, Abdalla & Lahav 2016)

ANNz: Photometric redshifts using Artificial Neural Networks (Collister & Lahav 2004)

ExoFit: Orbital parameters of extra-solar planets from radial velocities using Bayesian MCMC (Balan & Lahav 2008)

Selected Public Outreach

DES Scientist of the week (DES website) (2017)

The DES Movie (video, 36 min) (2016)

"100 years of Einsten's General Relativity" (animation video, 3 min) (2015)

"Science is Everything", Guardian online (video, 3 min) (2015)

Radio 4 Today Programme (audio, from 84 min) (2013)

"The Nature of Dark Energy and Dark Matter: Are New Laws of Physics required?", Lecture at the Royal Institution (audio, 1hr 27 min) (2013)

Interview to the Economist (video, 7 min) (2012)

Last Updated: 9 May 2017

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